Deborah Ross interviewed Joan Nathan on July 12, 2011 in Washington, D.C. as part of the Jewish Women's Archive "Weaving Women's Words" project.
Joan Nathan is the author of numerous cookbooks, each of which focuses on an aspect of Jewish life and culture. She is not only a cookbook author but a cultural historian and food writer as well. Her books educate about Jewish life, tradition, and Jewish history. In her interview, she talks about her Jewish identity and the impact visiting Israel had on her. But from there, exploring Jewish food has opened her up to a much broader understanding of what defines "Jewish food," and by extension, Jewish history and culture. She tells how the recipes and stories come together and how people sharing recipes in their kitchens often reveal much about their own lives in the process.
During 2010 and 2011, Deborah Ross decided to interview a number of Jewish women living and working in and around Washington, D.C. Having lived in the area for over three decades, she wondered how these women, many of them the firsts in their fields, all of them distinguished, understood their Jewish identity. "In other words," she wrote, "not, 'What makes us Jewish?' but 'What does being Jewish make us'"? Over a year's time, working as a volunteer, she interviewed nine women on video.
The complete video recordings and transcripts of the interviews are available on the Internet Archive. To see the online exhibit based on this project, visit Jewish Women's Archive/DC stories